Well, I made it to Cambodia. I arrived in Phnom Penh at 1:05pm Monday afternoon, about 4 hours behind schedule. My flying experience was incredible, albeit very long (it was 35 hours or so), because of Singapore Airlines. Singapore aireline is the best airline I have ever flown. EVen the coach section of their planes are beautiful and there’s decent leg room. The selling factor was their stellar customer service. I didn’t pre-order any meals and when I got on my first flight Friday, I realized my mistake and told the flight attendant expecting to have to go without. Not only did they make sure I got a veg meal for my first flight, they made sure I would have veg options for every leg of my trip. Then, my flight from German to Singapore was late so, I was expecting on having to go to the counter to sort myself out but, nope! As soon as I stepped off the plane, a customer service rep was waiting for me with my new flight and a free meal voucher. Singapore Airlines’ customer service is the best I’ve experienced. It made the long journey not only bareable but, enjoyable! I am over the moon about them.
Landing in Phnom Penh felt surreal. I felt the heat hit me as soon as I walked off the plane. Getting my Visa (definitely get passport photos printed for Visas!) and going through customs was a breeze. As, I stepped out into the airport, I looked for Tuk tuk drivers. I had read a lot about how to get from the airport (I worried this would be the most stressful) and tuk tuks seemed like the best option. It was easy to find a driver and suddenly we were off, speeding towards my hostel.
Ah, the traffic of Phnom Penh; It is choreographed chaos. Cars zoom forward, motorbikes weave and the tuks putter in and out. There are seemingly no lanes and as everyone comes together and separates out as needed. It was fascinating to watch from the safety of my tuk. We made is to my hostel in roughly thirty minutes, my driver pointing out important sites along the way.
I’m happy to report my hostel, The Share Phnom Penh Hostel, is a very high quality spot. There’s a small gelato— side note, Phnom Penh loves gelato!— shop downstairs and the staff is sweet and helpful. I’m in a room with 6 other beds but, every bunk (I’m on the bottom) has a heavy curtain so there is privacy. Every bunk also has its own outlet and light! Plus, they give you a locker to store your stuff and keep it safe. We even have air conditioning! I’m living in style for $5 a day. I’ll take it.
Monday, I wandered around the river front (Tonle Sap) and found a cute French cafe—side bar, Cambodia used to be French colony— where you can sit at table and watch the traffic zoom by or indulge in their French pastries or baguettes. I have heard from multiple sources that non-American made bread doesn’t effect those with gluten allergies, such as myself, because everywhere but America lets the wheat ferment. I had to test out a small baguette to see for myself. It was DELICIOUS (real bread..I have missed you) and so far so good. After the cafe I passed a small spa that was offering a reflexology massage for feet, legs, arms and back for $9. I happily stopped and was in bliss for 60 minutes getting the tension of travel massaged out of my limbs. The only downside to the massage was I went from very-tired-but-could-push-through-it to I’m-now-so-relaxed-I-can-barely-keep-my-eyes-open. I half stumbled out of the spa massage-drunk (it’s a thing) and made my way to the night market, a popular attraction, but it was too early so most of the market was setting up. At the night market, big rug looking plastic mats are laid out and families rent a little section to sit and eat the street food on offer. Not sure I could stay awake until the market came alive, I jumped into another tuk tuk, this time I negotiated a price!, and tried to find a vegan restaurant I had read about. My driver (the people here are so kind) and I searched and searched but, alas couldn’t find it. I did find a German run cinema that I will head back to at some point before I leave Thursday. The sky had started to darken at this point and heavy rain clouds rolled in, lightening striking in the distance, so I headed back to my hostel. I crawled into bed at 8:30pm, pulled my privacy curtains and fell fast sleep.
All in all, a pretty great first day.